The 3 Key Ingredients for a Long Life

Consuming flavonoid-rich items such
as apples and tea protect against cancer and heart disease, particularly for
smokers and heavy drinkers, according to new research from Edith Cowan
University (ECU).

Researchers from ECU’s School of
Medical and Health Sciences analyzed data from the Danish Diet, Cancer and
Health cohort that assessed the diets of 53,048 Danes over 23 years.

They found that people who
habitually consumed moderate to high amounts of foods rich in flavonoids,
compounds found in plant-based foods and drinks, were less likely to die from
cancer or heart disease.

quick fix for poor habits

Lead researcher Dr Nicola Bondonno
said while the study found a lower risk of death in those who ate
flavonoid-rich foods, the protective effect appeared to be strongest for those
at high risk of chronic diseases due to cigarette smoking and those who drank
more than two standard alcoholic drinks a day.

“These findings are important as
they highlight the potential to prevent cancer and heart disease by encouraging
the consumption of flavonoid-rich foods, particularly in people at high risk of
these chronic diseases,” she said.

“But it’s also important to note
that flavonoid consumption does not counteract all of the increased risk of
death caused by smoking and high alcohol consumption. By far the best thing to
do for your health is to quit smoking and cut down on alcohol.

“We know these kind of lifestyle
changes can be very challenging, so encouraging flavonoid consumption might be
a novel way to alleviate the increased risk, while also encouraging people to
quit smoking and reduce their alcohol intake.”

much is enough?

Participants consuming about 500mg
of total flavonoids each day had the lowest risk of a cancer or heart
disease-related death.

“It’s important to consume a variety
of different flavonoid compounds found in different plant based food and drink.
This is easily achievable through the diet: one cup of tea, one apple, one
orange, 100g of blueberries, and 100g of broccoli would provide a wide range of
flavonoid compounds and over 500mg of total flavonoids”.

Dr Bondonno said while the research
had established an association between flavonoid consumption and lower risk of
death, the exact nature of the protective effect was unclear but likely to be

“Alcohol consumption and smoking
both increase inflammation and damage blood vessels, which can increase the
risk of a range of diseases,” she said.

“Flavonoids have been shown to be
anti-inflammatory and improve blood vessel function, which may explain why they
are associated with a lower risk of death from heart disease and cancer.”.

Dr Bondonno said the next step for
the research was to look more closely at which types of heart disease cancers
were most protected by flavonoids.

‘Flavonoid intake is associated with
lower mortality in the Danish Diet Cancer and Health Cohort’ was recently
published in Nature Communications.

The ECU study was a collaboration
with researchers from the Herlev & Gentofte University Hospital, Aarhus
University, as well as the Danish Cancer Society Research Centre, Aalborg
University Hospital, the Universities of Western Australia and the
International Agency for Research on Cancer.


Nicola P. Bondonno, Frederik Dalgaard, Cecilie Kyrø, Kevin
Murray, Catherine P. Bondonno, Joshua R. Lewis, Kevin D. Croft, Gunnar
Gislason, Augustin Scalbert, Aedin Cassidy, Anne Tjønneland, Kim Overvad,
Jonathan M. Hodgson. Flavonoid intake is associated with lower
mortality in the Danish Diet Cancer and Health Cohort
. Nature
, 2019; 10 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-11622-x